Plate Tectonics Activities Lab Stations NGSS Middle School MS-ESS2
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This NGSS middle school plate tectonics lab stations activity and worksheets incorporates earthquakes, convection currents, volcanoes and even hot spots to gather evidence to develop a deeper understanding of the strand MS-ESS2 Earth Systems. It is a HIGHLY ENGAGING lesson that rotates middle school students through 5 stations related to plate tectonics and how the earth is constantly cycling Earth’s materials and moving energy!
In this activity, students:
- investigate and model convection currents within Earth's mantle
- create a model volcano
- plot earthquakes and volcanoes on a map
- model the formation of hot spots
- model how the mantle moves
There is a little bit of prep work required, but I promise you it will be worth it!! An answer key is included for class review or easy grading! This resource is best taught after students have a general understanding of the layers of the earth (crust, mantle, core.) Each station takes 8-10 minutes depending on your students’ needs.
Materials List and Prep:
Station 1 – Go With the Flow: hot plate, food coloring, handful of wood chips, foam pieces, etc. (or any sample that floats), large volume beaker, stack of books equal height of the hot plate placed next to it
Station 2 – Finding Clues, The Location of Earthquakes and Volcanoes: blue and red markers for each student
Station 3 – Hot Spots - Volcanoes: red marker and a roll of paper towel
Station 4 – Volcanoes – Creating and Evaluating a 3D Model: 50 ml beaker, graduated cylinder (use clay to wrap around it and make it look like a volcano!), vinegar, baking soda, spoon, red food coloring, paper towels for clean up
Station 5 – Earth’s Mantle – Stretch Your Imagination: Silly Putty or similar
Alignment to NGSS
DCI - ESS2.A: Earth’s Materials and Systems
CCC - Energy and Matter
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NGSS Unit Template for Lesson Planning (Example Included)
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